National Netball League
1 month ago

Comets climb to the top of SHNL ladder

Building on a decisive finish to the third quarter, the Comets have won their fourth match of their Synergy Hair Netball League to climb to the top of the ladder.

They needed to hold off a fast-finishing Northern Marvels side however for the 57-54 victory in the Round 9 match at Pulman Arena in Auckland on Saturday.

The Comets and defending champion Central Manawa are well placed in the top two spots of the points table with just one round to play heading into the Grand Final on 23 June.

But Comets captain Tori Kolose said they would need to address the lulls which plagued their game when they meet the Marvels against next week in the last round, to ensure they book their finals spot.

They held a five-goal buffer over their Auckland sisters in the final spell, but the Marvels netted three straight goals in the last two minutes of play to give the hosts a fright.

“I think we need to do a better job of recognising when we are on a roll and scoring off those turnovers and then the next centre pass as well, so that’s definitely an area we need to improve on if we want to go through to the final,” Kolose said.

The influential midcourter said they would take time to analyse the match before meeting the Marvels again.

“We do try to do a bit of analysis with the teams that we’re coming up against, but we also like to just focus on our own game and get our stuff right.”

Early defensive pressure from the Comets helped them to a 6-2 advantage with Jaelin Tulikaki and Crystal Maro sharing the shooting load in the opening minutes.

Their speed in transition from defence onto attack had the Marvels defence scrambling but the visitors forced a few wayward passes to claw their way back into the first quarter.

Marvels’ goal attack Dani Binks put in a power of work, moving the shooting circle and helping to open the space for shooter Sophia Lafaialii.

With momentum, the Marvels turned the tables on the scoreboard before a late flurry of goals from the Comets saw both teams enter the break locked at 16-16.

It was the hosts who again started the stronger of the two teams heading into the second spell – a change in its shooting circle with Summer Temu coming on at goal shooter.

Defender Lili Tokaduadua tightened the screws in the Marvels shooting circle while at the other end of the court, captain Tori Kolose dictated play on attack.

But in a similar storyline to the first stanza, the Comets slowly built a small advantage before the hosts found their rhythm, particularly on attack, to finish the quarter strongly and go into the halftime break with a 29-27 lead.

Taking those lulls out of their performance in the third quarter was key if the Comets were to break clear of their northern sisters, and the introduction of experienced Eseta Autagavaia added a spark to their frontline to turn their two-goal deficit into a two-goal advantage.

Discipline hurt the Marvels early in the spell but the rebounding efforts from Leila Atkins and Charlotte Manley and their patience up front kept them in the game.

Lifting themselves out of a quiet patch, the Comets put themselves in the box seat with six straight goals giving them a 43-39 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

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